"This is a big step, a huge step forward for Helper City. We're moving into the '90's!"
That line got the laughs Mayor Dean Armstrong was looking for at Thursday's city council meeting. On the serious side, though, city government had just given provisional approval to begin a major push to renovate its antiquated water, sewer and storm drainage systems.
The first step is to have a plan, and the council voted to enter a contract with Franson Civil Engineering to assess the piping that has been deteriorating in the underground darkness for about 70 years now. The council approval is conditional on the mayor and city attorney Gene Strate coming up with an acceptable contract.
Earlier this year, the council authorized Armstrong and councilman Chris Pugliese to search for and evaluate a qualified engineering firm and come back with a recommendation. In his report to the council, Armstrong said he has never done business with Franson before, but the research he and Pugliese did indicated the company would fit the bill.
Helper should be able to pay the expected $28,000 expense out of its water enterprise fund, he told the council.
The task now is to work up a draft on the scope of services Franson will provide. That's likely to include producing an up-to-date map of all the culinary, sewer and storm water pipes. This would have to include pipe sizes and flow rates. The secondary water sprinkling may pose a challenge since the exact locations of those pipes are hard to come by.
Once the data are in, the council and public works staff will have to work with the firm to design an overall plan.